This article provides a good, although brief overview of Egypt’s internal security organizations and their record. As the quote below illustrates, Egypt’s security forces have reputation for brutality:
- “If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear and never to see them again, you should send them to Egypt,” the Former CIA officer Robert Baer said in 2004, six years before the Arab uprisings started.
- In 2015 alone, more than 1,250 forced disappearance and 267 alleged extrajudicial killings were recorded in Egypt with well over 40,000 political prisoners.”
The institutions have evolved since 2010:
- “During Mubarak’s times, three institutions mainly constituted them:General Intelligence Apparatus (GIA), the State Security Investigation(SSI – now renamed National Security Apparatus or NSA) and the Military Intelligence Apparatus (MIA).
- The first is directly affiliated with the presidential establishment and has its own special status under the legal framework. The second falls under the Ministry of Interior, and by far the most powerful institution within it. The third belongs to the Ministry of Defence, and gradually grew in power and mandate – to dominate the two other institutions, and smaller ones since 2011.
- “They [MIA officers] became the eyes and ears of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. The rest of intelligence apparatuses were not trusted,” said a former brigadier-general, who spoke on condition of anonymity given the situation.
- The eyes and the ears gradually became the brain, as well. The MIA intervened in parliamentary “elections”, ran political prisons, and formulated anti-opposition policies.”
Perhaps most interesting, the security services compete with each other and have their political agendas and security strategies:
- ” Domestically, these armed security institutions competed to have “political wings”. In the 2015 parliamentary elections, each of them sponsored different multi-party blocs and individual candidates.”
- “But these institutions also compete when it comes to foreign security policy. One of their public clashes occurred this month. The Minister of Interior Magdy Abdel Ghaffar – a former head of the NSA/SSI – declared that Palestinian Hamas was directly involved in assassinating the former Attorney General, Hisham Barakat.
- Six days later, the GIA invited the political leaders of Hamas to Cairo to discuss security and military cooperation in Northeast Sinai, where the regime has failed to quell a growing insurgency. “So, one institution considers them terrorists and the other considers them counterterrorism official partners. Bamboozling … we certainly got multiple security policies, not a ‘bad-cop, good-cop’ one,” a former major-general in the Egyptian armed forces told me.”
“The recent death in Cairo of Italian graduate student Giulio Regeni has triggered fresh concerns about Egypt’s human rights situation, five years after mass protests forced President Hosni Mubarak from power…..”
“Rights groups say hundreds of people who have nothing to do with either IS or the banned Muslim Brotherhood have faced abuse including torture, sexual assault, arbitrary arrest, disappearances, prolonged detention, disproportionately harsh sentences, unfair trials and death in custody.
Many students, journalists, academics and secular-leaning activists hailed as heroes of the 2011 uprising are now in prison.”
“What we saw in both Egypt and Tunisia, as well as in other countries who witnessed unrest including Bahrain and Syria, with this behavioral metric was the reality masked by GDP per capita trends and other classic economic metrics. In fact, in the years leading to the unrest, while trends of traditional metrics could be best described as “uneventful, with a slight uptick,” life evaluation data were telling a clear and consistent story in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain. The general theme of those data were, “‘Warning, contents under pressure. Do not shake!” This was due to the clear decline in how citizens themselves were evaluating their lives. It was apparent that far too many saw the future as bleak, irrespective of GDP or what other classic metrics said about their countries.”
A good analysis of the violence in the Sinai:
“Between 2004 and 2015, the Sinai insurgency has grown from mainly an urban terrorism campaign of bombing soft targets (such as the Taba Hilton in 2004) to a structured, low-to-mid level insurgency, aiming primarily for “hard” targets (such as Battalion 101 Camp in el-Arish, the HQ of the military campaign, dubbed “Sinai’s Guantanamo” by locals).”
“Under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, Egypt, along with all U.N. Member States, will have their human rights record reviewed under the ‘Universal Periodic Review’ (UPR) – and there will be many in Geneva who will have some rather harsh questions. It’s an opportunity for the Egyptian state – but few are holding out for the possibility that it will take it.”
Its deja vu all over again. One of the main complaints leveled against the Mubarak regime was that it ruled under a constant state of emergency. The state of emergency was put in place when Mubarak took power after the assignation of Anwar Sadat in 1981, and it remained in place until after he was overthrown. Sisi has now brought it back, at least for the next 3 months.
“There has been no claim of responsibility for Friday’s suicide blast at an army checkpoint that killed 28 soldiers.
At least 28 others were injured in the attack near El Arish, the main town in the north of the restive peninsula.
Three more soldiers died in a separate shooting at a checkpoint in the town itself.”
“The area has become increasingly lawless since President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in 2011. Militants have stepped up attacks since Islamist President Mohammed Morsi was ousted by the army last year.”